Tax preparation programs are often available through community colleges and sometimes even 4-year colleges and universities. These programs typically don't result in a degree, though some do award certificates.
Schools with Tax Preparation Programs
The following schools offer tax preparation programs:
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Degrees Offered||Tuition (2015-2016)*|
|North Seattle College||Seattle, Washington||4-year, Public||Certificate|| $4,458 In-state
|Oakton Community College||Des Plaines, Illinois||2-year, Public||Certificate|| $3,285 In-district
|LaGuardia Community College||Long Island City, New York||2-year, Public||Certificate||$635|
|Glendale Community College||Glendale, California||2-year, Public||Certificate|| $1,175 In-state
|Southeast Community College||Lincoln, Nebraska||2-year, Public||Certificate||$397|
|Santa Ana College||Santa Ana, California||2-year, Public||Certificate|| $1,142 In-state
|Southwest Tennessee Community College||Memphis, Tennessee||2-year, Public||Certificate|| $3,963 In-state
|Central Carolina Community College||Sanford, North Carolina||2-year, Public||Certificate||$$1,664|
|Cuyahoga Community College||Cleveland, Ohio||2-year, Public||Certificate|| $3,136 In-district
*Source: NCES College Navigator
School Selection Criteria
There are some important considerations to keep in mind when looking for a tax preparation program:
- Some schools teach students tax preparation for themselves or others, while other schools may offer preparatory programs for the basic IRS exam.
- Programs can range from one course to a full semester or year. Shorter programs may be useful for personal tax preparation, but students who wish to find employment as a tax preparer may need to consider a more in-depth program.
- Students who are not interested in semester-long or year-long commitments could pursue seminar programs in tax preparation that generally meet for 1-2 full days.
- Programs that offer hands-on experience in the form of supervised tax preparation internships or community programs could increase real-world knowledge and enhance student resumes.
Basic Certificate in Tax Preparation
Basic tax preparation curriculum teaches students how to complete federal and state returns for individuals. These programs may include as few as three classes and 15 credit hours of coursework. Graduates are prepared to sit for the basic IRS certification exam.
Advanced Certificate in Tax Preparation
Advanced certificates typically move past individual tax returns and focus on more complex issues, including taxes for small businesses, farms and corporations. Completion of such a program qualifies students to sit for the advanced IRS certification examination, though preparatory classes for the examination may not be included in the standard curriculum.
Seminar in Tax Preparation
Seminars in tax preparation are short, focused programs designed to educate individuals in both basic and advanced tax knowledge. Seminars are similar to certificate programs in that the basic seminars focus primarily on individual federal and state returns and advanced seminars focus on more complex issues and are designed for people with tax preparation experience.
Tax preparation programs are usually available as a seminar or certificate program. Basic programs focus on individual tax returns, while more advanced programs address areas such as business tax forms, accounting and payroll taxes.